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Free Zone is Google Stepping Up its Game to Challenge Facebook in South Africa

By Wayan Vota on December 10, 2012


You remember Facebook Zero, the no-cost access to Facebook that is helping to double Facebook users across Africa? Now check out Google’s come back:

Free Zone is free access to Gmail, Google Search, and Google+, on 8ta, South African’s newest mobile network.

Now why is this a big deal? It shows that Google has learned a trick or two from Facebook’s quick ascension and massive user adopting across Africa. Price matters and nothing beats free. While this is a first for Google in Africa, expect them to be smart and roll out free Google access to other countries as well (like they did in the Philippines), directly competing with Facebook Zero.

Why would mobile providers want to give away data for free? To get users hooked on Internet services of course. From the Philippines, we learn that:

Smart Communications said the half million users who signed up spent 150 percent more on average per month than its other subscribers.

Hey, maybe the free Gmail access will end Yahoo! Mail’s dominance too.


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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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